When Dave and I discovered the Affair Recovery website in 2019, we felt enormous relief that there were people in the world, ‘just like us’. People sitting on both sides of the infidelity fence, ones who wanted and managed to salvage their marriage and also ones who didn’t.
We found a well of resources drawn from depths of experience, articles and vlogs from the likes of AR founder Rick Reynolds, Samuel, Wayne Baker, Leslie and John Harding. Men and women who had shared the same pain as we had, yet somehow succeeded in rebuilding their lives. We needed to learn all we could from those who had gone before us.
We felt validated, we even dared to see a glimmer of hope.
I quickly enrolled in a program for the betrayed, hoping to find support and guidance through my recovery journey and Dave enrolled in the program for unfaithful spouses. I was thankful that such programs existed.
But wait, hang on a minute…
Why should the unfaithful be cared for after they have caused so much pain to their betrayed spouses and families? Shouldn’t they be left hung out to dry, shamed, punished, tarred and feathered?
I needed to heal, I needed to be nurtured, I needed to feel safe, how is this new group Dave’s joining going to be a safe space for him, and us!
Is it safe for my cheating husband to meet in groups with other men who have betrayed their partners?
Aren’t they all deviates who shattered their relationships by betraying their significant others?
What kind of horrible things will they be discussing—I mean—there are a lot of serial offenders out there, my husband being one!
Won’t they corrupt each other further?
Will it be like some kind of blokes club where they boast about their conquests?
Will they lament over the loss of the other women/porn/seduction/secrets and excitement.
Is it safe, will he be safe, what if he decides it’s too hard and gives up working on recovery?
Am I safe? My amygdala was going crazy, am I safe, am I safe, am I safe?
AND THIS… Why am I asked to sign a contract saying that I will not read his notes???
OMG, how this one sent me into a tailspin. Why on earth am I being asked to sign a contract, I’ve done nothing wrong, he’s already kept everything hidden from me and now I’m being asked to give him more privacy or more opportunity to keep his filthy rotten secrets private.
Does he even deserve it?
I struggled big-time with this.1
I told him that my promise was good enough, he should accept my word, just as I had his all of these years. I could tell him that I would not read his notes (and I meant this) but I don’t think I could bring myself to sign it. My ego wouldn’t let me, it was the principle of the matter.
I think I may have even said things like, “What does a signature on a contract mean if a person can’t keep their word? You signed our marriage certificate but that meant nothing to you did it?” “Your promise was not worth the paper it was written on, why should this be any different”
No, I was not full of grace at all.
You see a traumatised brain has a hard time trying to find any semblance of safety when it’s been hurt so badly. How the heck could I trust anything after what I’d been put through, and then to be asked to give him space and heaven forbid privacy to diarise any dark thoughts and feelings…
Although I desperately wanted Dave to get to the bottom of why he did everything he did to crush me, the truth is I was scared—absolutely terrified—of letting go of having any control over Dave’s healing process, yet I had to accept I was not in control.
Only Dave could do Daves work and only I could do mine.
I believe that it is difficult for us humans to trust in a process that we are not in control of. I’ll put my hand up first and say that this is true for me.
So what did Dave find in this 17-week group with a handful of unfaithful men?
He found Hope for Healing, gained internal strength, had accountability and received support through a structured program that was the beginning of him understanding himself in a way that he’d never known before. He met broken courageous men who weren’t afraid to cry and be vulnerable and honest with each other. Men, filled with genuine remorse and humility, men dedicated to repairing the damage they’ve done to their marriage and the agony they’ve inflicted upon partners they love deeply. Men who are taking responsibility for their actions and choices, men committed to becoming better men, men of honour.
Through this course and all of the subsequent ones he has mentored and led, Dave continues to meet incredible men and discovers more about himself.
Peeling back the layers, like an onion, getting to the sweet spot.
All of my initial fears, though valid, were completely unfounded, we are in this together.
I’m in charge of keeping my side of the street clean and Dave’s in charge of his.
Trust the process…
Only those who stick around long enough to see the caterpillar turn into a butterfly actually get to witness the transformationKristin Michelle Elizabeth
1PS. The reason why a betrayed spouse is asked to sign a contract not to read any of the unfaithful’s workbooks or notes is for their own benefit, to minimise more harm and further trauma. What an unfaithful person writes in a moment may be true for them at the time but not necessarily the truth. It can take many years for them to fully understand the why behind the choices, they can be caught up in limerence or in a place of ambivalence. And in case you’re wondering—no—I have never looked at any of Dave’s notes, I may have been tempted on occasion but have resisted the urge until the urge no longer exists.